Roger Gorley’s partner was lying sick in a hospital bed. His partner’s family didn’t want him there, so the police showed up, handcuffed him, and forced him out of the hospital.
This is what happens when gays aren’t allowed to marry.
Gorley and his partner, Allen Mansell, have been in a civil union for five years and have power of attorney for each other’s medical decisions. They did all the right paperwork to protect themselves in situations like one of them winding up in a hospital.
One of their motivations may have been that Mansell did not want his blood relatives to have a role in his healthcare decisions.
But the Research Medical Center (RMC) in Missouri didn’t care. Or maybe they really did care in a not so warm-and-fuzzy way, and that was why they wanted Gorley gone. Either way, their story is that Gorley’s presence was disrupting patient care (because Mansell’s brother was having a hissy fit about it). RMC later justified its behavior with the explanation that patient wellness has to be the first priority, so it had no choice but calling in the cops to violently drag Gorley away from the man he loves.
That excuse doesn’t stretch far enough to cover RMC’s next move: getting a restraining order against Gorley so that even when Mansell’s family wasn’t present, Gorley could not visit his beloved.
The most disturbing part of RMC’s behavior is that the couple was well known at the hospital. They were there regularly for Mansell’s electro-shock therapy treatments. According to Gorley’s daughter, Amanda Brown, all the paperwork giving Gorley control over Mansell’s medical treatments is “ON FILE with Research Medical Center,” where the staff knew Gorley and Mansell to be “a proud gay couple.”
Brown reports that Mansell’s family did not approve of his relationship with Gorley and had interfered with it in the past. In the hospital they stuck their noses in again. Though Mansell’s brother Lee did not know his medical history, he insisted on making all medical decisions for Mansell. Lee did not know Mansell’s doctors or even which hospital usually treated him.
Once at RMC Lee insisted that he would make all the decisions and would not let Gorley interfere. Gorley protested that he was responsible for his husband’s medical decisions and told Lee to leave.
Mansell says that he wants Gorley, not his biological family, making his medical decisions. He also says that he clearly told authorities that he wanted Gorley to stay in his room.
Nevertheless, a nurse told Gorley to leave. According to Brown, Gorley protested that Mansell was his husband, and the nurse responded “I know who you two are. You need to leave.” Rather than checking the chart for a power of attorney form, which was right there, she sided with Mansell’s brother and called the police.
Still Gorley refused to leave his husband’s side. He held onto his gurney with one hand and to Mansell’s hand with the other. So the police wrestled him to the ground so hard that his glasses and the hearing aids in each of his ears were knocked off.
Because Gorley is gay, the offers assumed that he was HIV+. One would not touch him without wearing gloves.
Brown says that all Gorley and Mansell want “is equal rights under the law. The same protections and allowances that heterosexual couples receive. We both know that if this had been a man and his wife this would not have happened the way it did.”
After the national media exposed RMC’s heartlessness and prejudice the hospital reversed course. “We have had a policy specifically acknowledging domestic partners’ visitation rights in place for years,” an RMC spokesperson said, adding that they would have taken the same steps had a heterosexual couple been involved instead of a gay couple. Riiight. If Gorley and Mansell were a heterosexual married couple, it would have been brother Lee out on his ass.
RMC has now given Gorley supervised visiting hours outside of the normal ones to separate Gorley from Mansell’s family.
A civil union did not protect this couple from one of their sibling’s objections. Just one of the many inequalities visited on gay couples.
If you’d like to donate to help Gorley and Mansell with medical and other bills, click here.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
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